CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan Called for Solidarity with Tibetans, Defended Voice of America Radio Broadcasts to Tibet
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) and Women’s Rights in China (WRIC) sponsored a forum at Tibet House in New York to raise awareness about the Tibetan and Han self-immolation protests in response to the PRC’s human rights atrocities. The event took place on Tuesday, December 11, 2012. State Senator from New York Ruben Diaz sent his statement (PDF file) in support of free Tibet.
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting Executive Director Ann Noonan made the following statement:
Statement by Ann Noonan
Executive Director, CUSIB
December 11, 2012
Tibet House, New York City
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to strengthen free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries with restricted and developing media environments. We support journalism in defense of media freedom and human rights by U.S. taxpayer-funded media programs for international audiences produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Our mission is to make these programs more effective and better managed. We also advocate for better working conditions for broadcasters delivering news to countries without media freedom and defend their journalistic independence.
This past year, the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting worked very hard with the support of various human rights groups and government leaders to protect Voice of America’s Tibetan Service. Even though Voice of America’s Tibetan Service 20th Anniversary was widely celebrated and their radio broadcast programs were widely applauded, the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ budget proposal for 2013 included measures to eliminate completely these critical radio broadcasts and leave funding only for a television program which most people in Tibet are unable to receive. That attempt by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, if successful, would have defeated the purpose of a Federal law which established the VOA Tibetan Service.
I urge everyone here to be vigilant to any upcoming proposed budget cuts. For some reason, the value of radio in the eyes of the Broadcasting Board of Governors does not seem as great as it does to radio listeners of programs such as those that are broadcast by Voice of America’s Tibetan Service.
During the past few months, there has been an incredible upsurge of self-immolation protests in Tibet. Men and women, young and old, nuns, monks, and ordinary people have reached such a point of anguish, unbearable suffering and desperation that they set themselves on fire in a final outcry for attention.
Tibet and the surrounding ethnically Tibetan regions have been closed off to most outsiders, and firsthand information from these areas is extremely difficult to obtain. The international community must not be insensitive and indifferent to these tragedies. Each precious life lost through self-immolation protest points to the cruel suffering that impacts Tibetans. As China’s government continues to be responsible for widespread and systematic human rights violations throughout Tibet, young Tibetans are pushed to the brink of desperation conclude that they must sacrifice their lives to make a final desperate statement.
I’d like to share with you a brief analysis of China’s reaction to the self-immolation cases that I found online by the Students for a Free Tibet:
“The Chinese state’s reaction to the self-immolations continues to expose the true face of the regime. They go into lockdown; they flood Tibetan streets with troops, they crack down on every aspect of Tibetan life, put monasteries under siege, kill protesters staging peaceful gatherings in support of self-immolators by firing into crowds and beating and detaining unknown numbers on a daily basis. Knowing that their reaction is unjustified, they continue to ban tourists and foreign journalists from Tibet in an attempt to hide what is happening. But even in that they are failing; brave Tibetans like Yonten Gyatso are risking their own health, lives and freedom to get news, eyewitness accounts, videos and pictures like these out of Tibet.”
Just one day after we celebrate International Human Rights Day, let’s make a commitment to help establish the truth about the situation in Tibet and to address the underlying problems. We need to end this humanitarian disaster. We need to make the crisis of self-immolations in Tibet an urgent international issue.
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting fully supports initiatives where teams of independent investigators and free media would go to Tibet, especially to areas where Tibetans’ self-immolations have frequently occurred, to report on the true situation of Tibetan society and the real reasons for the self-immolations.
We stand in Solidarity with Tibet and continue to and hope and pray for a Free Tibet.